2014-15 Griz Hoop Team Begins Practice

By DAVE GUFFEY for GoGriz.com

MISSOULA, MONTANA (10/1/14)  – The University of Montana Grizzly basketball team begins practice for the 2014-15 season Monday, Oct. 6.  The first day teams are allowed to practice is Saturday, Oct. 4.

The Griz are coming off a 17-13 season and were 12-8 in the Big Sky Conference, which put them in a thee-way tie for second place (with North Dakota and Northern Arizona).

First-year head coach Travis DeCuire returns two-plus starters (one full-time starter and two players who started in at least half of the games) and seven letterman in his initial season as the mentor at his alma mater (1994).

“During the first week of practice we will be looking to set the tone, in terms of play and execution,” DeCuire said.  “We will be introducing a lot of new information.  Our ability to retain it on the fly will be challenged.”

The starters lost by the Griz are guard-forward Kareem Jamar (30 starts), guard Keron DeShields (28 starts), and center Eric Hutchison (21 starts).  Jamar led UM in scoring and rebounding at 18.8 points a game, and was a first team all-conference selection for the third year in a row last season.  DeShields was third on the team in scoring (11.8 ppg) and an honorable mention all-league pick a year ago, while Hutchison averaged 3.8 points per game.

Starters back are guards Jordan Gregory (29 starts) and Mario Dunn (16 starts), and forward Mike Weisner (15 starts).

Griz guard Jordan Gregory Photo by Todd Goodrich UM

Griz guard Jordan Gregory Photo by Todd Goodrich UM

Lettermen returning are 6-2 sophomore guards Riley Bradshaw (played in 20 games) and 6-4 Brandon Gfeller (27 games/two starts), 6-6 senior center Chris Kemp (29 games), and 6-5 sophomore forward Jack Lopez (16 games).

Gregory, a 6-2, 185-pound senior from Pueblo, Colo., was Montana’s third leading scorer last season, averaging 13.8 points a game, and he was named honorable mention All-Big Sky.  He was ranked third in the Big Sky in free throw percentage (85/8%) and 11th in scoring.

“Jordan has been a steady leader through the transition (of having a new head coach),” DeCuire said.  “He’s been preparing himself to have a great senior season.”

A 6-7 senior from Walla Walla, Wash., Weisner was fourth on the squad in scoring, averaging 8.1 points per game a year ago.  He was ranked second in the league in three-point percentage (46.6%) and tied for 13th in treys made per game (1.6).  He was 36-of-38 (94.7%) from the line.

Dunn, a 6-0 sophomore from Oakland, Calif., started in 16 of UM’s 20 Big Sky games.  He was fifth on the team in scoring (6.3 ppg).

“Mario is one of the most competitive players I have had,” DeCuire said.  “I look forward to going to battle with him on the floor.”

None of Montana’s four returning lettermen, Bradshaw, Gfeller, Kemp, and Lopez, averaged more than 2.8 points per game.  Kemp tied for sixth on the squad in rebounds (2.1 pg).

A key returnee is 6-8 junior forward Marin Breunig who was in the program last year, but came to UM via the University of Washington and had to redshirt due to NCAA transfer rules.

“Breunig has been working hard,” DeCuire said.  “We expect this year to be a breakout season for Martin.”

Montana has two players from the junior college ranks in sophomore guard/forward Jermaine Edmonds Jr. and sophomore guard Daniel Nwosu.

The 6-5 Edmonds Jr., from Richmond, Calif., averaged 14.5 points per game at Diablo Valley College a year ago.  Nwosu, 6-2, is from Ottawa, Ontario, and averaged 13.2 points per game at Casper College in Wyoming last season.

The Griz added three players from the high school ranks.  That trio included Bryden Boehning, a 6-10 center from Glendive, Mont.; 6-6 forward Gavin DeJong from Manhattan, Mont., and 6-8 forward Fabijan Krslovic, who hails from Abbotsbury, NSW, Australia.

Boehning (pronounced BAY-ning), averaged 15.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game as a senior.  DeJong missed his senior season in hoops because of a football injury, but averaged 18.0 points and 12.0 rebounds per game as a junior.  Krslovic represented his country in the 2013 U19 World Championships, and he also played on Australia’s Under 17 National Team.

The Grizzlies’ practice schedule varies from day-to-day.  Their first practice on Oct. 4 is slated from 10 a.m. to noon in the West Auxiliary Gym (WAG).

The team will make its public debut at the annual Silver-Maroon scrimmage, Wednesday, Oct. 29, starting at 5:30 p.m. in Dahlberg Arena.